Monday, November 1, 2010

Restoring Sanity... in the Public School Classroom

I have been reading some of the bloggers' reactions to John Stewart's rally in Washington D.C. this past weekend. Stewart always adds quite a bit of humor to his liberal-leaning presentation of the news. He was joined at the rally by his dubious conservative counterpart on Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert.

Here is a short clip of the opening festivities:


While the introduction is comical, it is delivered with intelligence and sharpness that have made Stewart a success. This is exactly what young Americans who are still interested in politics, despite the anger and mediocrity with which the talking heads deliver it to us on network news, are searching for. Despite the stereotyping, young Americans do not require everything to be entertaining (well, maybe some of them do). The larger point is that the political parties that run the elections and government have become farther and farther apart, leaving most young Americans standing in the middle trying to decide between two somewhat ridiculous options:
  • The Republicans would have us believe that we should be angry, really furious, about the economy, high unemployment and taxes. According to the Republicans we should blame our situation on the Obama Administration and the Democrats. Therefore, we must vote for a republican candidate in the midterm elections tomorrow.
  • The Democrats would have us believe that every problem that exists in the United States of America can be blamed on the Bush Administration and the Republicans. Since, according to the Democrats, their actions from 2000-2008 are the root of all evil, we must vote for only democratic candidates tomorrow.

What about the rest of us?

What do the voters think... I mean on their OWN, not based on what the parties tell them to think through unending mailings, emails, and campaign tv and radio advertisments?

What about FUTURE voters?

Tomorrow, I plan to ask my students

  • What they think about how the campaigns in our state have played out?
  • What campaign ads do they think help voters decide? Which don't help at all? We might even watch a few on YouTube.
  • What messages are candidates sending? What messages should they be sending?
  • If they could vote, who would they vote for governor? or for congressman?
  • How should voters make their decisions before checking a box or filling in a bubble inside a voting booth?

Those of you who are reading this and are parents or teachers or just citizens who know teenagers, I beg you to have a similar discussion. They are future voters. They see all the same media that we do. They need to tools to filter all of it and then make an educated decision based on how THEY think and feel, not based on how the media TELLS THEM to think and feel.

2 comments:

  1. My husband and I are both 3rd Party believers - while our candidates very rarely (never) make it into office, we still vote for them because we believe that seeing the numbers rise for 3rd party candidates is just as important as electing them to the positions that we are voting for. As for our children, we teach them to think on their own...but as humans, our own beliefs do shine through. I tend to sway more liberal, while my husband tends to sway more conservative so I think the kids get a good smathering of all sides. (I hope) My view on politics with my children is the same as my view on Religion with them - I want them to believe in something and be educated on all sides, and I want them to make their own way. As long as they are contributing (and voting) members of society, then I'm honestly ok with whatever direction they choose. I'm ok with politics in school if and only if the teacher is capable of presenting both sides equally and fairly, which is hard for any human, especially these days. I think (and hope) that the more that Reps and Dems get fanatical and ridiculous, the more people will open their eyes to the wonderful 3rd parties out there that can offer our country more than just the right or left choices we have now.

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  2. Sadly, the tv ads tend over the years to have a Jerry Springer kind of feel to them. They play up the skeletons in people's closets and the things someone said or did long ago. If at age 40 or 50 one can have a completely clean record and have never had one ounce of any adversity or caused anyone to dislike him/her then that person is someone who probably has not really done much with his or her life. People who are out there, making a difference, rattling cages--making changes for the better of others will undoubtedly cause others to have a critical eye on him/her. Certainly the person who has caused someone harm, done illegal things, or stolen money...or absconded with license plates for her friends....should be brought before the public for his/her deeds if those deeds reflect on the office he/she is running for. However, I find that the media talks down to the public, and just likes to plant the seeds of disgust in the ignorant minds so that when we go to the polls and we are standing there with our minds numb from the day, and we can barely remember our own names much less who these people are that we are filling in ovals for--the critical ads will pop up in our little goldfish minds and cause us to fill in the oval for the other guy/gal. Evil..but sadly it works. Certainly better than in other areas of the world where your family is threatened if you do not vote for a certain person.

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